Friday, February 21, 2020

Lessons from the History of Famines

By Timothy Gamble (September 20, 2018)

During famines more people die from violence and disease than from actual starvation. This surprising fact has been noted by Economic Historian Cormac Ó Gráda and others who have studied the history of famines. 

Without getting into the causes and outcomes of famines (Ó Gráda and others have written many scholarly papers and books on the subject), I want to examine what this means for preppers and survivalists:

Disease prevention and medical readiness, along with security and self-defense, are equal to food and water as areas of concern.  

The need to address food and water is ubiquitous within the prepper and survivalist community. It is usually the first bit of advice offered to newbies, and it is probably the most discussed area of preparedness. Many articles and books have been written on the subject, covering everything from food storage, to raising and preserving food, to providing food through hunting, fishing, and gathering wild edibles. 

Taking care of this area to ensure you and your family won't die from lack of food isn't enough. During a famine, you will still be vulnerable to the violence and sickness of those in your area who aren't prepared food-wise. 

Threats from violence during a feminine are obvious.  Folks desperate from a lack of food will turn to stealing, looting, and rioting. But it is more than just the desperate masses you need to fear. Famines are often accompanied by wars and/or political collapse. Local warlords and strongmen often rise up attempting to take advantage of the situation.  These folks typically come from the ranks of the police, military, or criminal gangs, meaning they are surprising well-armed and well-trained, disciplined, with an already established chain-of-command and operating procedures. In other words, they will be much more dangerous than your average group of looters. 

Thus security and self-defense needs to be a major area of concern and preparation on your part. This includes not only hardening your home, as well as guns and ammo, but also training and developing standard operating procedures. Situational awareness is also a crucial skill to learn. First aid is a skill everyone in your family or group should have, including the ability to apply a tourniquet and dress a major wound (such as from a knife or gunshot).

I recommend the book Retreat Security and Small Unit Tactics by David Kobler (Southern Prepper 1) and Mark Goodwin for more information on security planning, training, and tactics.

Medical preparations for a famine include developing good health beforehand, practicing good hygiene and sanitation during the crisis (which includes stockpiling hygiene, sanitation, and cleaning supplies), learning and taking preventative measures, and learning how to deal with common medical conditions that may occur. This last suggestion includes stockpiling what medical supplies and medicine you may need, and knowing possible alternatives such as wild medicinals and foods, herbs, & spices with anti-bacterial or other curative properties. Having a medical professional or two in your group would be a tremendous blessing, of course, but even if you don't, someone needs to be made the group "doctor." This person should be given the primary responsibility to learn both advanced first aid and as much medical knowledge as they can before the crisis ensues.

A great medical resource all preppers and survivalists should have, in my opinion, is The Survival Medicine Handbook by Joe Alton, MD, and Amy Alton, ARNP.

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